NOTE: And so we start off 2013 with a new band, featuring artists who are long-time Beach Boys fans, and able to capture some of the magic of The Beach Boys sound.

The Bamboo Trading Company
The Bamboo Trading Company [CD, MP3];
Released April 23, 2013

1. Airborne     1:21
2. Kitty Hawk     3:32
3. Tweet (Don't Talk Anymore)     3:13
4. Drinkin' in the Sunshine     2:51
5. Star of the Beach     3:50
6. Haulin' Cargo     2:43
7. Shrewd Awakening     4:02
8. Tonga Hut     4:04
9. Jericho     4:32
10. I've Always Loved the Ocean     4:32
11. Don't Say It's Over     2:50
12. The Bamboo Trading Company (Theme)     2:59
13. Airborne (Reentry)     1:05

  As cool a slice of Summer as you're likely to find this year, The Bamboo Trading Company's debut album is a clever mixture of Jimmy Buffet tiki-tunes and Beach Boys harmonies swirling around in a shimmery, sympathetic brew.  The band, consisting of Gary Griffin, Randell Kirsch, Matt Jardine, Philip Bardowell, Chris English, and Miami Dan Yoe, also features production and writing co-credits by David Beard (of Endless Summer Quarterly fame) and is mastered by Mark Linett.  Quite the lineup, but these long-time fanboys manage the improbable task of forming a band that, although it has its roots in various Surf & Island melodies, creates a sound uniquely their own.  The entire album glows with a warm, laid-back attitude, with moments that strongly echo Brian, Carl, Mike, Dennis, & Al's golden age, and at times recall their specific voices. Favorite tracks are legion, but standouts are the harmony-drenched "Don't Say It's Over," the sinewy "Shrewd Awakening" (part of a soundtrack collaboration for The Return of the Killer Shrews) "The Bamboo Trading Company (Theme)," with it's carnival-like atmosphere, and the easy-living chill of "Star of the Beach."  Also fun is the spy-jazz twister "Jericho" and the tribute to the Wright Brothers "Kitty Hawk."  But the entire album is so pleasant and full of 'good vibrations' that it's a front-to-back pleaser.  Small nit-picks: since the Bamboo Trading Company hearkens back so successfully to the feel-good late-60s/early 70s era, it's a little strange to hear the anachronistic "Tweet (Don't Talk Anymore)" pop up, and some of the songs sounded a little square-edged to my ears, but overall, a surprisingly warm and tuneful set of songs.  You can pick up the physical CD here (my own personal choice, due to the groovy gatefold cover), or go to Amazon for the mp3 download.  

That Beach Boy Sound Volume 1
Catmandu Records/Wienerworld 1003 [CD];
Released July 2, 2013

1. Don't Be Scared (The Rip Chords) 2:42   
2. Do the Bomp (The Bompers) 1:57   
3. I Call My Baby STP (The Del-Vetts) 2:11   
4. The Girl in the Black Bikini (The In Crowd) 2:51   
5. Thunder Road (The Super Stocks) 1:57   
6. GeeTO Tiger (The Tigers) 2:30   
7. Drag Strip U.S.A. (Flagmen) 2:17   
8. Saturday's Hero (The Go Go's) 2:01   
9. Happy Birthday (Just the Same) (The Dovells) 2:38   
10. Skate Board (Sidewalk Surfers) 2:41   
11. My Little Surfin' Woodie (The Sunsets) 2:01   
12. Tough Little Buggy (The Tren-Dells) 2:25   
13. Mary Ann (The Good Vibrations) 2:22   
14. Ridin' in Number Nine (The Surf Breakers) 2:02   
15. The Best Girl of the Summer (The Hansen Brothers) 2:50   
16. Summer Means Fun (Bruce & Terry) 2:14   
17. Little Sidewalk Surfer Girl (The Hondells) 2:21   
18. Draggin' Wagon (The Surfer Girls) 2:22   
19. Do It Again (Papa Doo Run Run) 2:45   
20. Coming on Too Strong (Wayne Newton) 2:21   
21. Yellow Van (Ronni & the Dirt Riders) 3:19   
22. She Rides with Me (Joey & The Continentals) 2:03   
23. Sammy the Sidewalk Surfer (The Surfettes) 2:09   
24. Hot Rod High (The Surfaris) 1:43   
25. Goodbye Baby (Ronny & the Daytonas) 2:16

This low-key release, just this side of being a bootleg, is a nice little treasure-trove of some extremely rare (and a couple of not-so-rare) singles, mostly from the early/mid-1960s, when it seems like everyone was trying to jump on the then-hot bandwagon of Surf/Beach music ignited by the success of The Beach Boys.  Sadly lacking in notes (and high-fidelity sound), this is still a pretty fun release, mostly due to the multitude of artists and songs I'd never heard before.  The Bompers, The Tigers, The Go-Go's (NOT the 80's girl band), Ronni & the Dirt Riders, The Hansen Brothers, and others all are none-to-one-hit-wonders, and they rub shoulders very nicely with the more well-known Rip Chords, Bruce & Terry, Ronny & The Daytonas, The Super Stocks, The Hondells and The Surfaris.  As you might suspect, many of these songs and artists are from the Gary Usher/Roger Christian songwriting stable, but Jeffrey Foskett also makes a couple of modern-day appearances courtesy of The Good Vibrations dreamy "Mary Ann" and Papa Doo Run Run's cover of "Do It Again".  Even eternally-coiffed Vegas showboat Wayne Newton makes an early career appearance with the cheese-free "Coming on Too Strong" - the most surprising track for me. But everything here is pretty darn fun - from the Gothic death fable "The Girl in the Black Bikini" by The In Crowd (which strongly echoes The Shangri-Las "Leader of the Pack") to Joey & the Continentals great cover of the Brian-Wilson penned "She Rides With Me", which I'd only heard previously in the Paul Petersen version - it's all good, Beach Boys-style pop-wannabes.  Unfortunately, the sound is pretty low-fi - flat mono, probably mastered from 45 sources, clean, but lacking presence and punch.  Still, I enjoyed listening, and give it a recommendation.

That California Sound: The Risers, The Sounds of the Weird-Ohs, The Surf Nuts
Catmandu Records/Wienerworld 1001 [CD];
Released July 2, 2013

The Risers
1. Pico Hornet #28 - 2:00
2. Cruising - 2:05
3. Knobber Hill - 1:53
4. 305 Dream - 2:11
5. The Steel Shoe - 2:06
6. 250 Scrambler - 2:18
7. She's a Bad Motorcycle - 2:24
8. 650 C.C. - 1:29
9. Turn Her On - 1:43
10. Wash, Wax and Shine - 2:02
11. Match The Test - 2:07
12. Chopped & Bobbed 74 - 2:05

The Weird-Ohs
13. Huey's Hut Rod - 2:47
14. Leaky Boat Louie - 1:53
15. Daddy The Swingin' Suburbanite - 1:49
16. Francis the Foul - 2:11
17. Drag Hag - 2:08
18. Flame Out Freddie - 2:20
19. Killer McBash - 2:09
20. Davy, The Psycho Cyclist - 2:00
21. Wade a Minute - 1:51
22. Digger - 2:16
23. Sling Rave Curvette - 2:01
24. Endsville Eddie - 2:12

The Jack Marshall Band
25. The Monster Surfer - 2:13
26. Some Gremmie Stole My Hair Bleach - 2:17
27. Surfing is My Life - 2:21
28. Sax Now, Surf Later - 2:17
29. I Left My Love at Rincon - 2:06
30. Laura, Teen-age Laura - 2:51

REVIEW: Although not listed as "Volume 2" of the above compilation, this CD, released on the same day, also on the Catmandu label, serves as a spiritual soul-mate to That Beach Boys Sound.  But instead of concentrating on rare singles, this album gathers three albums from the mid-Sixties: She's A Bad Motorcycle by The Risers, The Sounds of the Weird-Ohs, and My Son, The Surf Nut by The Surf Nuts (aka The Jack Marshall Band).  I've already reviewed The Sounds of the Weird-Ohs, so leaving that aside, we're left with The Risers She's A Bad Motorcycle from 1964, and produced by Jerry Capehart, its a pretty square effort, with the songs having all the clunky "charm" of The Beach Boys own "Ten Little Indians" but without the catchy melodies or propulsive energy.  It sounds exactly as if it was written by middle-aged men trying to cash in on the hot rod craze, with dire results.  But even worse is My Son The Surf Nut, which is an attempt to parody the whole surf/drag craze, with painfully written lyrics, and ham-fisted humor the order of the day, all performed with either A.) "Boris Karloff" monster voices, or B.) deliberately off-key singing.  Yeah, hilarious.  Gary Usher and Roger Christian's fingerprints again litter this collection, so I place most of the blame on them - this is music that sounds like it was written and recorded with everyone drunk, and is about as much fun as the morning after hangover.  With no liner notes, and low-fi mono sound, you can pass this one by.

The Big Beat 1963
Brian Wilson/Various Artists [MP3];
Released December 17, 2013
1. The Big Beat     Bob & Sheri 2:02   
2. First Rock And Roll Dance (Instrumental)     Brian Wilson 2:25   
3. Gonna Hustle You (Demo)     Brian Wilson 2:06   
4. Ride Away     Bob & Sheri 1:51   
5. Funny Boy     The Honeys 3:00   
6. Marie     The Honeys 2:26   
7. Mother May I     The Beach Boys 2:14   
8. I Do (Demo)     The Beach Boys 1:53   
9. Bobby Left Me (Backing Track)     Brian Wilson 2:37   
10. If It Can't Be You     Gary Usher 2:17   
11. You Brought It All On Yourself     The Honeys 2:21   
12. Make The Night A Little Longer     The Honeys 2:25   
13. Rabbit's Foot (Unfinished Track With Backing Vocals)     The Honeys 2:24   
14. Summer Moon     Vicki Korcher 2:22   
15. Side Two (Instrumental)     Brian Wilson 2:28   
16. Ballad Of Ole' Betsy (Demo)     The Beach Boys 2:36   
17. Thank Him (Demo)     Brian Wilson 2:19   
18. Once You've Got Him     The Honeys 1:48   
19. For Always And Forever (Demo)     The Honeys 2:12   
20. Little Dirt Bike (Demo)     The Honeys 1:24   
21. Darling I'm Not Stepping Out On You (Demo)     The Honeys 2:14   
22. When I Think About You (Demo)     The Honeys 1:38

This surprise release from Capitol Records is the result of one of those pesky copyright laws that keep international lawyers in business.  Due to a British 50-year expiration date on artists recordings - Capitol decided to protect their interests by gathering these rare recordings (some taken from private collector's acetates) and releasing them as a download-only album.  Well, what's bad for copyright laws is all good for fans - this is one of the best releases of the year.  Featuring a plethora of artists who worked with Brian Wilson, including the Honeys, Gary Usher, Jan & Dean, Bob & Sheri, and others (including The Beach Boys), these songs, many of them previously uncirculated are Brian Wilson at his most raw and edgy - before the art pretensions took over, before the drugs and alcohol took their toll.  This is Brian the songwriter, who's still enamored with rock 'n' roll, and stretching his wings as a songwriter and producer for others.  Despite being taken from various sources, the sound is very good (with the exception of Vicki Korcher's cover of "Summer Moon" which has notable distortion and surface noise), and you get some real gems - such as the rough-and-ready "First Rock and Roll Dance" or the strange Pyscho-like ranting found on "Mother May I" (which prefaces some of the 'crazy' to come on later Beach Boys releases); there's also the appearance of the long-awaited "Rabbit's Foot" which turns out to be the backing track for "Our Car Club" and numerous other gems scattered about.  The big minus to this release is the absence of any kind of liner notes detailing the origins and fates of these tracks - making this release almost as faceless and head-scratching as any other bootleg release.  Still - fun stuff, and fans should grab it while it's here.

Matt Tyson: Summertime Girls
mai tai sun MTS1014 [CD-R/MP3];
Released 2014

1. My Old Bel Air
2. Down By The Beach
3. A Surfer's Paradise
4. Summertime Girls
5. Love Is Good
6. Five Window Coupe
7. Someone New
8. Aloha Wagon
9. Now That He's Gone
10. Kitchen Windows
11. Mahalo Aloha Kihei
12. Time Trippin'
13. Deanie
14. Only In My Dreams
15. (Hidden bonus track)

  Matt Tyson's 2014 release, Summertime Girls is another spot-on homage to the 'Endless Summer' California of The Beach Boys, circa 1964.  Replete with references to cars ("My Old Bel Air," "Five Window Coupe," "Aloha Wagon") the beach ("Down By the Beach," "A Surfer's Paradise," "Maholo Aloha Kihei") and girls ("Summertime Girls," "Love is Good," "Now That He's Gone") there are few artists out there who can so successfully capture the reverb-heavy, harmony-drenched world that Matt is able to recall perfectly.  Take the dreamy "A Surfer's Paradise" which drips with melodic melancholy, thematically reminiscent of Brian Wilson's "The Lonely Sea"; or the masterful title track, which effortlessly switches from propulsive driver to smooth ballad mid-song, then back again.  But Matt doesn't allow himself to get stuck in the 60's - he delves into synthesized pop in "Love Is Good" and a surprising bit of blues in an atypical "Five Window Coupe".  "Now That He's Gone" is an musical cousin to "Let Him Run Wild" while the oddly-named "Kitchen Windows" is a rollicking instrumental tear-up.  The memorable groove of "Time Trippin'" tears away from the Beach Boys-mold in a darker, more rock-heavy direction, and "Deanie" (which I originally thought was going to be a cover of The Raspberries "Hey Deanie") is instead a piano-driven original, and the album closes with the fun, danceable "Only In My Dreams".  Also, there's a surprise bonus reprise after the closing song which you should stick around for.  While Matt's hooks aren't always as memorable as Brian Wilson's, his craftsmanship and jaw-dropping one-man-band talent make all of his albums a must-have.  His productions are thick with Spector-like touches, and Matt single-handedly sings all of the choir-boy harmonies with tingly perfection.  There is lots here to love, folks, and Matt deserves a much higher critical and public profile than he has been afforded.  You can purchase it either on Amazon or CDBaby.

Surf School Dropouts: Second Nature
Surf School Dropouts [MP3]
Release Date: March 31, 2015

1. Destination Sunshine  3:41   
2. Should Have Known Better 3:04   
3. Where Have You Gone 2:44   
4. Interlude (Sarah) 0:52   
5. Sarah 3:59   
6. Wonderful Ride 3:30   
7. Interlude (California) 1:29   
8. Coastline Cruisin' 2:49   
9. Lanikai 3:16   
10. California 4:46   
11. This Morning 4:04   
12. Interlude (Summer Rain) 1:15   
13. Summer Rain 4:04   
14. Ebb & Flow 3:45

The Surf School Dropouts surprised me with their excellent 2012 release Summer is a State of Mind, and after a three-year hiatus, I'm thrilled to report they're back with their second album, Second Nature which builds upon their laid-back, sunshine-y sound.  But this album, while still maintaining the laid-back vibe which saturated their debut, has a rougher edge to the vocals, and a more organic feel to the arrangements which make me feel this is the kind of album Dennis Wilson might have made back in 1966-67 had he been so inclined.  Banjos, vibraphones, jangling twelve-string guitars, saxophones are all featured, and sweet ethereal vocals swirl and tickle throughout.  While not strictly in the Beach Boys mold, their music more strongly resembles the melodic singer-songwriter Andrew Gold (who was himself a die-hard Beach Boys fan), but with a far richer harmonic element wedded to their sound.  Highlights are numerous, starting out with the ripped beats and ragged vocals of "Destination Sunshine" followed with the jangly "Should Have Known Better" the dreamy "Interlude (California)" and bass-on-point "Lanikai" catching my ear, along with the infectious "This Morning" and aching "Sarah" showcasing the rough-and-ready vocals and sugary harmonies which the band has mastered.  I also loved the Pet Sounds-like "Interlude (Summer Rain)" which seamlessly transitions into the fantastic "Summer Rain" which sounds like it could be an outtake from The Beach Boys own Friends album.  The final song, "Ebb & Flow" is a supple benediction exactly of the type Brian Wilson might have written.  Surprising chord progressions, inventive and ear-catching instrumental touches, and incredibly gorgeous harmonies make this album a fantastic pick for Beach Boys fans looking for something fresh and new to dive into.

The Explorer's Club: Together
Goldstar Recordings [CD/MP3]
Release Date: June 24, 2016

1. Together
2. California's Callin' Ya
3. Once In A While
4. Be Around
5. Gold Winds
6. Perfect Day
7. Quietly
8. My Friend
9. No Strings Attached
10. Don't Waste Her Time
11. Before I'm Gone

REVIEW: The Explorer's Club, one of the sole current bands who clearly and apologetically grab their musical templet from The Beach Boys, score again with their latest release, Together.  Lushly produced, richly harmonic, and sweetly nostalgic, Together sounds like a natural continuation of the post-Pet Sounds vibe the Beach Boys achieved on 1968's Friends album; capturing a unique vibe, sweet and aching with innocence.  In fact, the album is SO beautiful and filled with transparent harmonies that it stands utterly alone in contemporary music trends - No other band out there attempts the complex harmonies built here.  That said, its special quality also mars it; the album is so gentle and wistful that it's a bit one-note - for the first seven tracks there change in the mood - no wild rocker or psychedelic foray to upset the tone, and so you're left with one gorgeously-sung song after another, and after a while, it all sounds like a long song cycle.  It's not until the closing tag of "My Friend" that something more fiery raises its head, but when you have such amazing song-craft as "No Strings Attached" or "California's Callin' Ya," "Perfect Day" or the poppy "Don't Waste Her Time" to soak up, it's easy to just let the album take you away on its gentle wings.  Yeah, highly recommended.

Jeffrey Foskett & Jeff Larson: Elua Aloha
New Surf Limited [CD/MP3]
Release Date: June 12, 2018

1. Feeling Just the Way I Do (Over You) 3:23
2. Need a Little Summer 3:24
3. Windblown Mind 3:15
4. Girl with Uke 3:49
5. You Remind Me of the Sun 2:45
6. All Bets Are Off 5:07
7. Hazy Sunshine 3:05
8. The Word Go 3:07
9. Frontier Village 4:22
10. She Has to Know by Now 2:49
11. Shadows of the Canyon 3:38
12. Satellite Sky 3:07
13. World I'm In 3:01

REVIEW: Jeffrey Foskett,and Jeff Larson, two latter-day pop artists non-parallel, have teamed  up for an album that pays homage to their soft-rock roots, and no, it's not the Beach Boys. Despite the Pacific-leaning title, and songs with titles like: "Need A Little Summer" "Hazy Sunshine" and "You Remind Me Of The Sun" - instead, these two have composed a baker's dozen worth of songs that sound more like the second coming of England Dan and John Ford Coley, or perhaps the offspring of America.  Nothing here rocks, or gets too heated, but the sweet harmonies and gentle, instantly-hummable melodies flow by like a gentle tide.  The album kicks off with the country-lite "Feeling Just The Way I Do (Over You), which instantly sounds like a lost AM radio track from the 1970s, while "Need A Little Summer" layers sweet harmonies underneath the insistent, repetitive melody, and vocals that evoke some of Carl Wilson's sweetness.  "Windblown Mind" takes a rippling guitar rhythm and marries it to a tune so perfect, you'd swear he swiped it from Jeff Beckley (who guests on several tracks, as well as other musical friends such as Smithereens drummer Dennis Diken and  ex-Chicago bassist Jason Scheff).  The entire album is so soothing and congenial that its the perfect soundtrack for a lazy day at the beach - there's not a bad track here, and while nothing here is groundbreaking or adventurous, it's hard to fault such perfect pop construction - song after song after song.  Beautiful vocals, fine songs, lovely production all around.

Matt Tyson: That Awkward Age
Mai Tai Sun Records [CD/MP3]
Release Date: October 7, 2019

Matt Tyson - That Awkward Age
1. Can We Find a Way - 3:40
2. For Us (They're Playing Our Song) - 3:08
3. You Make It Easy - 3:01
4. I Don't Wanna Go Now - 2:45
5. That's the Way Girls Are - 2:11
6. Gone - 2:51
7. She's a Groovy Girl - 3:09
8. You Don't Know Me - 3:21
9. The Awkward Age - 0:43
10. When Summer Comes - 1:59
11. Her Little World - 3:06
12. I Can't Let Go - 2:11
13. Can We Find a Way (Vocals) - 3:57

REVIEW: In the five years (!) since Matt Tyson released his last album, I've seen a decline in the amount of artists who can credit their sound to the influence to The Beach Boys - music has become harder, more brittle, and complex harmonies seem to be vanishing completely from modern pop music.  Which is part of the reason why That Awkward Age is such a breath of fresh air.  Matt has a remarkable ability to compose and perform lush, jazz-infused harmonies and tie them together with songs that sound as if they could have been ripped right out of the Sixties playbook of Gary Usher, Bruce & Terry, or The Hondells.  His melodic skills have improved over the years, with the songs containing many memorable hooks and callbacks to the golden age of rock music.  I had a fun time counting the number of nodding references found in "For Us (They're Playing Our Song") which references everything from The Beach Boys to Bowie, and listening for striking Brian Wilson homages ("Gone" "When Summer Comes"), or songs which remind me of Gary Usher's productions (a stunning "I Can't Let You Go") or Phil Spector (the thunderous "You Don't Know Me").  He still has a tendency to let sudden key modulations drive the melody line, which is more clever than necessary, but this is an album where the songs and hooks actually get stronger as the album plays. He also has a style that is entirely his own which pops up now and again.  This is a remarkably strong album which only grows in appeal with repeated listens.  If I'm not mistaken, he's mixed the entire album in mono - which is a bit of shame, I would have loved to hear a sparkling stereo separation in the rich orchestrations and vocal parts, but it's honestly a minor quibble - what a great album - and what a great gift for fans of the Sixties sound.   

Disclaimer: This is an unofficial site and has no connections with either the Beach Boys or their agents.
All site design and content copyright 2021 Bret D. Wheadon. All rights reserved. PRIVACY POLICY